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Markets continue to react to the Federal Reserve's announcement Wednesday that it will end its bond-purchasing program, QE3. Futures indicate the stock market today (Thursday) will open 33 points below yesterday's close.
Fed chair Janet Yellen will speak this morning at 9 a.m. EDT.
Watch for the first report on third-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) today. While most chatter will focus on Yellen's morning comments, the markets will want to know just how much the economy is improving. In the second quarter, U.S. GDP growth hit 4.6%. For Q3, economist estimates fall between a range of 2.1% and 3.5%, with a consensus of 3.0%.
Here's what else you should know – including Money Morning's "Investor Tip of the Day" – in stock market news today:
- Plastic Profits: Shares of Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) were up more than 3.8% after the company reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings. The company said that earnings fell to $1.07 billion, down from $1.19 billion in the same 2013 period. However, on an adjusted basis, Visa would have earned $2.18 a share, which beats analyst expectations of $2.10 per share. Meanwhile, Mastercard Inc. (NYSE: MA) also beat earnings estimates, reporting that its quarterly profits jumped 15%. Shares of Mastercard were up more than 1.5% in pre-market hours.
- Russia in Turmoil: Collapsing energy prices and economic sanctions are slamming Russia's largest oil producer. Rosneft Oil Co. (OTCMKTS: RNFTF) reported a quarterly net profit of just $23 million. This is down from a staggering $3 billion in the previous quarter. Money Morning Global Energy Strategist Dr. Kent Moors, an expert in Russian affairs and international energy markets, explained last week that falling oil prices are creating a number of headaches for the nation's leaders and its economy. Dr. Moors said the longer OPEC keeps prices suppressed, the greater the threat of economic calamity for Russia…
- Fitness Focus: Shares of Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) were down nearly 0.5% this morning after the company announced the release of its new fitness tracker, "Microsoft Band." The wrist accessory provides a color touchscreen, a heart monitor and step tracker, and global positioning to track an individual's movement. It even allows users to pay for products inside Starbucks Corp.(Nasdaq: SBUX) locations. The limited edition device retails for $199. Band is MSFT's attempt to gain market share in the $19 billion wearable tech space…
- Energy News: Shares of Royal Dutch Shell Plc. (NYSE ADR: RDS.A) were down 1.2% this morning as oil prices continue to slide. But this morning, the company announced that it will soon hire its first American chairman in company history. Former Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) chairman Chad Holliday will become the first head of its board who's not from the Netherlands or Great Britain. He steps in at a time when many multinational energy companies are dealing with declining oil prices and rising geopolitical concerns. Meanwhile, Shell Midstream Partners LP (Nasdaq: SHLX) will debut on the NYSE this morning after the new company raised its IPO to $23.
- Oil Prices Today: Oil prices slipped this morning. With the dollar strengthening on renewed optimism from the Federal Reserve, most commodity prices are down. Brent crude, the global benchmark priced in London, fell 0.8% to hit $86.38 this morning. Meanwhile, WTI crude, priced in Manhattan, fell almost 1%, slipping below $82 per barrel.
- Gold Prices Today: The stronger dollar took an even bigger toll on gold and silver this morning. Gold prices fell by 1.7% to hit $1,204 per ounce. Meanwhile, silver prices had an even worse morning. Silver is down more than 3.2%, falling to $16.70 per ounce.
- Economic Calendar: Today's economic calendar features the final revision to second quarter GDP, the EIA Natural Gas Report, and an update on weekly jobless claims.
- Earnings Reports: Stay tuned for earnings reports from LinkedIn Corp. (NYSE: LNKD), Boston Beer Co. Inc. (NYSE: SAM), ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP), CVR Energy Inc. (NYSE: CVI), Expedia Inc. (Nasdaq: EXPE), GoPro Inc. (Nasdaq: GPRO), Groupon Inc. (Nasdaq: GRPN), The New York Times Co. (NYSE: NYT), Starbucks Corp. (Nasdaq: SBUX), and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC).
Full U.S. Economic Calendar October 30, 2014 (NYSE: all times EDT):
- GDP at 8:30 a.m.
- Jobless Claims at 8:30 a.m.
- Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index at 9:45 a.m.
- EIA Natural Gas Report at 10:30 a.m.
- 3-Month Bill Announcement at 11 a.m.
- 6-Month Bill Announcement at 11 a.m.
- 7-Yr Note Auction at 1 p.m.
- Fed Balance Sheet at 4:30 p.m.
- Money Supply at 4:30 p.m.